Outlast 2 draws us into a murky, dark and disturbing journey in the depths of human folly that succeeds in the difficult task to overcome in almost all respects its predecessor, once again raising the bar regarding the standard survival horror. It is a very mature game, aware of its potential, both for the topics, making it suitable only for an audience not particularly sensitive or emotional and can appreciate, from time to time, a genuine leap in the chair.
With an excellent technical realization and a linear plot, but well told and compelling, Outlast 2 finds its only weak point in a simple gameplay, a bit scripted and often reducible to a desperate race towards a uncertain salvation, where we would have preferred to enjoy greater freedom of action. But the rest you know, the devil makes the pots but not the lids.
Let's forget the exaggerated jump scare of the first chapter, as did Red Barrels past the experience, creating an atmosphere that bothers and worries deeply. The distressing moments are many and do not require sudden changes in volume, since what scares most is what we can guess at the structural and deep level, that the organization of the satanic sect with which we're dealing with, but that we can not fully comprehend.
It is thanks to documents, listening and interpretation of the world around us that we can groped to give a sense of the work of these men and women, often scontrandoci with loathing and dismembered corpses dressed up as religious fetishes that remain there, in their immutable perfection to remind us what fate awaits us if we do not pay enough attention.
It is good to specify a fact that Outlast 2 is not a game for everyone, not just for violence or for fear that it is able to stage, but particularly in light of the issues and maturity recommended in order to capture the various facets without stopping at a superficial level.
To Satanism which was mentioned just above it is added religion, fanaticism and pedophilia, as well as other issues of which it is not possible to talk without spoiler on a plot that is really compelling, and central production economy. The crudeness of some (many) moments are so vivid that you can be the limit for those who are not accustomed to adventures of this certain type, throwing again (just as did the parent) the basis for a new shade contemporary horror.
Of course, those looking for a more immediate terror will find what they want, because the visual and rational atmosphere that reigns in the early stages of starting slowly more and more to join old school, especially during the flashbacks very well spaced the main action.
The most surprising aspect of Outlast 2 is that even these sections, which in many cases may serve as an easy filler, make sense that is magnificent and unsettling at the same time sowing the seeds of folly, investing progressively as the protagonist. As you advance in the title it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish what is real and what is not, in a fusion of delirium and actual perception that will not hesitate to surprise you more than once.
The only price to pay for a story so well structured is a predictable linearity, as Outlast 2 offers no alternative to the user, who is thus forced to follow the tracks dictated by Red Barrels and be carried away by the pace of events. It should be emphasized that the wide variety of locations mitigates most effective narrative bond, but the most demanding and eager players wanting to try the adventure with different choices could still turn up their nose about it, especially because of some constraints that impose similar limitations the gameplay.
If the narration has undergone a fairly major makeover, the same can not be said of the gameplay, which returns in a manner quite similar to what has already been tested in the previous iteration of the series. Once again we are armed with journalists and camera once it's dark, too dark to be able to move forward without the aid of night vision. Research and consumption of additional batteries becomes one of the main factors of anxiety, especially because the resource hunger pushes the player to a fighter who often end up complicating the progress and extend their already risky sequences.
Our apparatus, however, has a higher gear this time, being equipped with a remote microphone able to tell where they come from the noises we hear, crossing barriers such as doors or walls, and ensuring a tactical advantage on the decisions and timing to follow. Even this function requires an additional consumption in terms of battery, but at times it becomes really essential to understand when it's time to get out of a hiding place or to remain on hold for a few more moments.
These open sections, in which one must perform certain actions remaining in a specific area while one or more enemies make the rounds, are much less frequent compared to the first Outlast and almost always in correspondence with one of the bosses present in the production. It is in these cases of creatures from the character really interesting design, each one with his fighting style and personality characteristics that unfortunately we will learn good meeting after meeting.
These are the moments that most resemble the atmosphere of the original asylum, forcing us to pay attention to the surrounding environment and the use of time windows that allow us to escape unnoticed. A race, this, incessant and thrilling, which, however, in the rest of the sections results in a linearity of gameplay that leaves little or inventiveness to improvised solutions space.
They are unfortunately common moments when Outlast II takes a trial & error crease and, unless you fail to grasp immediately the crack of salvation that the development team has created for us, the game will lead to a quick death and a fast loading. It is objectively perceptible in these cases the script that enemies follow, made of pauses and movements designed to allow us to survive in a given moment or not. This phenomenon is felt even more in a level design that rarely forced to backtrack and solves many transitions with the frantic racing from point A to point B.
The positive consequence of this choice is the extreme variety, but especially the rapidity with which it passes from one environment to another, finally leaving behind the claustrophobic departments of the previous chapter, which in the long run could be monotonous and stale. Here there is no time to be bored and Red Barrels is the same that makes you want to discover and explore with the new camera recording function.
In the presence fact of particular contexts, moments chilling or juicy material from a journalistic point of view, it will activate a recording mode with which we can resume autonomously these elements, fully managing its director, but especially to see them at any time directly from the device same.
This feature, in marginal appearance and intended only to seekers collectible, it is actually extremely interesting, because it forces you to take a break from the action to confront face to face with the horror of certain details, making us rediscover the taste for macabre voyeurism It intended to also store smaller and disturbing details.
Four years after the first chapter, Red Barrels decided to explore new themes with Outlast 2, putting aside the closed environments of the early years in favor of a story that takes place largely outdoors, during a long bloody night. The plot revolves around Blake Langermann, a videographer who is in charge of investigative news reports along with his wife Lynn, going from time to time on the scene of the crime.
This time the two are headed by helicopter into the Arizona desert, where he was found the body of a pregnant young woman, perhaps a victim of a religious cult. But something goes wrong, one of the engines comes into failure and the aircraft crashes when we wake up in the role of Blake, we do not have the time to retrieve the camera, reaching the point of the crash and find that Lynn has mysteriously disappeared.
They took her away, but who did it and why? It is pitch dark, but the camcorder's infrared allow us to see the houses in the distance, a windmill and the inevitable corn plantations. Someone has to know what happened: better hurry up and knocking on some doors. Or maybe not?
Outlast 2 recreates the dynamic passive survival horror that fans of the series know well. The protagonist of this new, frightening adventure is a normal man, even a little coward, who merely witness the horror he sees recording specific sequences and photographing letters and messages, only to run away screaming when someone threatens him.
One approach inevitably frustrating because it is easy to imagine how anyone, on the ropes, possesses the instinct of self-preservation need to hold a rock or a stick to try to defend themselves; but nevertheless necessary in order to instill in the player the true fear, tension of knowing that should pay attention to their own steps to avoid alerting the crazy individuals who are hunting, and that you would no qualms about killing him in the way as painless as possible.
Blake arrives at this conclusion after a few minutes, when you come across carcasses of disemboweled animals and houses seemingly uninhabited, in which are, however, present the evidence of a cult, the one created by the guru Sullivan Knoth, that drives people to sacrifice their children in the name of an evil god and vindictive. The figure of Knoth, dashed through notes scattered around the scenarios, it seems as foolish as it is disturbing.
It is an exalted that satisfies his baser instincts raping and killing young women, a strong upward almost supernatural in its flock. They were in fact his men to kidnap Lynn, convinced he's going to give birth to the son of the Antichrist, and Blake will do everything possible to find her and drag her to safety although at some point the question will face even more acute, because the field actually are two forces and have opposite goals but equally sinister.
Although the basic structure is the same, the differences between Outlast and Outlast 2 are evident, in particular with regard to the ambitions of this sequel: the countryside, divided into six chapters whose names are inspired by the Bible, requires a dozen of hours to be completed, therefore on average twice as compared to the first episode of the series.
But you do not come across a story that is dragged by the hair, even the direction always maintains a great lucidity, allowing us to understand certain things and communicating so incontrovertible some uncomfortable truths in particular those concerning the flashbacks, bringing Blake to deal with two different realities: on the one hand the cursed town of Temple Gate, the other Catholic school where, many years ago, attended powerless to suicide of a friend.
The broad nature of the scenarios sacrifices in part some elements that in the first chapter played an significant role, such as hiding places in which to take refuge until the enemies present but most of the unused time in favor of an approach not wait. They return instead unstoppable enemies, particularly the terrible Witch we had already seen in the demo, which staged entry is accompanied by excruciating and unearthly screams, and whose finisher in us are visually painful.
On the floor of the gameplay are also this time very few puzzles to solve, with simple devices to be activated after the discovery of a specific component, while it is very much pushed on the visual limitations, with a virtually perpetual darkness that envelops any area of the map and that It puts us in a really obnoxious situation when you run out of batteries for your camera; because the killers who patrol the locations shown on several occasions to have eyes that are well accustomed to the darkness, unlike us.
The only, albeit important concession made by Red Barrels guys in view of the challenge lies in the possibility to resume the game right where we had stopped before ending up murdered, so as to avoid at least the frustration of having to repeat entire sequences to each game over. Double-edged sword, however, seen that such a solution inevitably opens to the trial & error.
Blake can run although for short stretches, hide, climb on certain surfaces, crawl and use of bandages to heal wounds which are important skills to survive in a context such as that of Outlast 2 that is rendered visually in a very practical way, thanks to a minimal interface, to which there are references to a map and therefore often leads us and happy to explore lands that are well outside of our comfort zones to modern gamers.
The camera, which at times will even removed from us, is in this sense as a basic tool, in fact, the eyes and ears thanks to proximity microphone of the main character, committed to wander through fields, churches used as rooms torture, forests, caves and even rivers. The situations fielded by Red Barrels are quite different and it seems to be no limit to the cruelty of our antagonists, who will try to make us a martyr soon give him the opportunity.
However, from a structural point of view it is easy to point the finger at the used devices, the problem of visibility to make arduous and tiring a progression that otherwise would be much faster, perhaps even trivial in comparison with any other securities stealth. The skill of the developers was therefore to mix all these elements wisely to get the tension, the fear, the sick atmosphere and a storyline that fully reveals their cards at the end, when Blake's past and present make peace, in their own way.
Although a title like Outlast 2 does not necessarily need a top quality graphics to achieve its objective, the work done by Red Barrels to that effect appears very good.it The engine remains the Unreal Engine 3, with all its limitations, but polygonal models have undergone improvements since the chapter debut and there is of course all part relating to the scenarios, which bought more varietà.
Certainly, some edges reveal the independent nature of the production, but the authors did very careful to use the tools available to them as best as possible, avoiding to get in too complicated situations. The Creator Update to Windows 10, with the introduction of HDR has contributed during our tests to enhance the colors of the game, however it turned out a bit heavier than expected.
On the test configuration, 4K and all purposes to the maximum, we could not get 60 frames per second stable, while at 1440p occurred a curious glitch on the colors but we do not know if it depends on the game, from Windows or from the screen that we used.
No problem at 1080p, which for this type of experience and its polygon complexity is probably the most balanced choice. If the graphic has been done a great job, the same can be said for absolutely sound, with English dialogue very well interpreted, intense and confident, as well as a sound design that can contribute decisively to the general tension.
Outlast 2 is violent, dark, sick and damn addictive with a survival horror of great class, which improves the debut chapter from all points of view and reach those who are probably the limits beyond which the passive subgenre is unlikely to go. In terms of direction it has been done an almost perfect job, as it appears the painstaking efforts by developers to make life difficult, the pitch darkness of the vast majority of the locations for the lack of batteries for your camera. Distinguishing features for a franchise that is now facing a major challenge is how can developers create something even more violent, disturbing and frightening for the next chapter?